BILL Eaton has put away his writer’s quill after the New Year’s festivities to allow up-and-coming referee Arran Hodgkinson talks about his experiences in the second of a three-part series.

This week, he talks about the steps after getting qualified.

IT was hard to believe but I had done it, I had come to a junction of decisions and taken a route, this was where the journey started, a career that no one can describe unless you are a referee yourself.

One thing I will always remember is that one of the tutors on the day of my course said to me, based on facts and figures, at least one person in that room on the day when I did my basic referee course would make it to the football league and further as a referee. I made a promise to myself that day that person would be me.

After qualifying the next step was to sign up for a league. I chose the Bolton Bury and District League – for me this is one of the best leagues in the area that develops talent.

Players, coaches and referees develop with a committee made up of selfless volunteers who give their time and hard work for the benefit of the league.

But it must be said my biggest ally was Bill Eaton, he was the referees’ secretary for the league at the time.

Little did I know that Bill would be a great part of my development as a match official and he would produce opportunities for me that would ensure I took one little step closer to that final dream; refereeing in the Premier League.

Bill appointed referees weekly, and during my first few months there were some ups and downs…and there were plenty of cards too, I can tell you that! The first few games as a football referee for me were bumpy.

I will always remember one particular game, where the players’ behaviour was in-excusable and the managers from both teams ended up coming on to the pitch and squaring up to each other.

By this point in the match I had lost all control and I honestly told myself that when I got home I would never referee another game of football; that is how bad I felt. I was an inexperienced referee, and I did not have a clue what to do.

I was stood on the pitch like a lost child, I didn’t know how to handle the two coaches, what action to carry out and at that moment in time I don’t think I even knew what my name was!

But I got through the game and with some excellent advice and support from my local referees’ society I got through what was for me a rough patch. I was taught how to handle these sorts of scenarios and what I can do as a referee to deal with them.